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Can You Play Horseshoes on Grass? Do You Need Sand?

Horseshoes has always been a cheap, but fun, game to play in the backyard as kids. It’s easy to play and doesn’t require many elements to get started. All you need is four horseshoes and two stakes. But do these stakes need to be stuck in sand?

Horseshoes is most commonly played in the sand with 40 feet between the stakes. Sandpits are dug for standard horseshoes play. However, this game can be played on grass, dirt, gravel, or any other material where a stake could be set up even without the use of the usual pits.

Read on to find out how the surface you play on can affect your game, and how to fix it!

Sand and Dirt for Playing Horseshoes

Sand and dirt are the most commonly used surfaces to play horseshoes on. The purpose of any sandpit would be to cushion the landing of the shoe and hold it instead of causing it to bounce or move.

This is important because points are tallied up based on how close to the stake your horseshoe lands. If the ground is too elastic, the shoe will bounce away and lower your point total.

Sand and dirt absorb shock and lessen movement.

Getting the sand wet is helpful for this as well. Moist, but not soaking wet, sand is best because it reduces the amount of sand escaping the pit by the shoes. However, one downside to sand is that it needs to be leveled after every inning.

It must be leveled in order for players to be on even playing fields.

This is obviously a rule for tournaments or serious competitive players. For children, it might be better to just use grass as it is much less messy and easier to clean up.

You can find great Horseshoe Sets Here from Amazon that have great ratings for a decent price. That’s where we got our family set.

Can You Play Horseshoes on Grass

Grass is often used for casual lawn games for parties or get-togethers. The horseshoes are usually much lighter than normal metal horseshoes as they are made of plastic. This type of horseshoe game can be found in any lawn game section of a toy store or toy section.

The stakes are often plastic and can easily be stuck into the grass of your front or backyard to allow kids to play for a few hours.

  • Pits are obviously not an option for lawn play.
  • It is unlikely you will want to dig a pit solely for your plastic game of horseshoes with your family.
  • Horseshoes can be just as fun on a level court for children.

However, bear in mind that this could make the game more challenging as grass may cause the shoe to slide when thrown, and with no pit to catch it, it could go even further, making it harder to keep track of and harder to score points with.

If you want a more serious playing field in your backyard, check our last section to see how you can get the perfect sand pit for your game!

You can find great Horseshoe Sets Here from Amazon that have great ratings for a decent price. That’s where we got our family set.

Can You Use Clay To Play Horseshoes

Surprisingly enough, clay is the second most commonly used pit filler material used in tournaments and competitive games of horseshoes. When clay is used in the pits it is moistened in order to make it softer and more like putty.

If it stayed in its dry state it would be hard and not conducive to play, however, when it is watered just right it is perfect. The problem with this, however, is learning the correct amount of water to add in order for it to become the correct consistency for play.

Check out our full article on clay vs sand horseshoe pits here.

Too much liquid added to the clay will cause it to become slippery and difficult to handle. Too little water will cause it to crack, even when not dry, which is not the smooth surface your want for horseshoes.

In order to keep the clay the right consistency where it is soft and just pliable enough to mold, water the clay pits after digging up the surface layer of clay (five inches or so,) and adding water then.

The water will mix with the dry clay both on top and under the dug-up section which can help control how wet the pit as a whole gets.

The most important part to remember when watering the clay pit is to not dig up the clay immediately surrounding the stake. This is because getting this area wet could result in the movement of the stake.

  • Much like sand, clay must be leveled a bit in between players’ innings so as to keep the game fair.
  • Simply add a little water to the top before flipping the first layer upside down and letting the water soften the middle of the clay during the next play.
  • Doing this after every player will keep the clay perfectly moist and great for horseshoes.

Other Options

There are other options such as using gravel to hold up the stakes, however, this obviously comes with its own problems of clean up, the bounce of the shoe, as well as pit maintenance. An interesting option for a casual lawn game is to buy sand or clay.

There are companies that pride themselves on their pit sands and sell them. Jurassic Sands for instance claims to have the cleanest and purest, all-natural sand. High-quality sand will have less dust than regular sand or dirt as well as be less abrasive.

Sand like this will last very long and be less clean-up than normal dirt or cheap sand. If you are wanting to make a horseshoe pit in your backyard, high-quality sand is a must as it will look great in your yard and last a long time.

  • Making your own horseshoe pit might be easier than you think.
  • One option for you is to skip the step of digging up your own lawn instead of putting a tarp down and laying sand over it.

It will still require one hole in your yard to be made for the stake and a hole in the tarp for it as well, but this is an easy way to create a removable horseshoe sandpit. Simply build a cage around the sand to keep it in place and maybe add a backboard to one side to catch the shoes.

No matter what surface you start with, horseshoes can be played and can turn into a great competitive game for any family.

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